Hospital personnel prepare a man injured in a crash in Gilford for a flight from LRGH to Dartmouth Monday night. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)
By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — A father and his 3-year-old daughter remain in critical condition at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon following a two-car collision that occurred at 8:08 p.m. Monday on Lake Shore Road near the entrance of Belknap Point Road.
Gilford Fire and EMS officials said the toddler was taken by ambulance to the Laconia Airport, where she was flown to Dartmouth. Her father, who was driving the Ford Focus, was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital, where he was stabilized and also flown to Dartmouth.
A 1-month-old child and his or her mother, who were on the passenger side of the car, were taken to LRGH by ambulance, treated and released. The male driver of the white work van was also transported to LRGH and was treated and released.
Gilford Police Lt. Chris Kelley described the crash as an offset head-on crash in which the driver's side of the van collided with the driver's side of the Focus. He said the collision opened the passenger side of the car "like a can opener" and the male driver and his daughter were sitting on that side of the car. Both cars, he said, ended almost off the road and facing west.
Police are not releasing names at this point to insure that all family members have been notified. Kelley said the car is registered in Pembroke and the van is registered in Laconia. The car was headed east toward Alton and the van was headed west toward Gilford. Both vehicles are impounded at the Gilford Police Department.
Deputy Fire Chief Brad Ober said the woman in the passenger seat of the car and the driver of the van were out of their vehicles when first responders arrived. He said firefighters needed to remove the driver from his seat and the two children who were in the back of the car and in car seats.
"We took the children out of the back window," Ober said, adding he's not sure if firefighters removed it or if it was destroyed in the crash.
Gilford Police accident reconstructionists were assisted at the scene by the the New Hampshire State Police. Kelley said they knew there was rain coming and decided to complete their investigation while the road was closed last night rather than close it again on Tuesday. As of Monday afternoon, Kelley said they are not sure how the collision happened and are still examining the data.
Ober said Gilford Fire and Rescue were assisted at the scene by Laconia and Belmont while crews from Stewart's Ambulance, Tilton-Northfield Fire Rescue and Meredith covered the station. At the time of the crash, Alton Fire and Rescue were already responding to two individual calls including a serious medical condition and a crash.
Emergency Management Director at Lakes Region General Hospital John Prickett described the incident as a small mass-casualty event. Because the female toddler was taken directly to Lebanon, he said the emergency room treated one critically injured person.
He said in Monday's case, helicopters from Dartmouth and Maine Medical Center both responded. He said like mutual aid emergency responders in this area, helicopter crews have a similar cooperative agreement.
Prickett said Monday night was a very busy night at the LRGH emergency room even before the motor vehicle crash.
"Fortunately, we had plenty of staff," Prickett said, noting he was called in to coordinate resources.
"My job is to make sure the emergency room has all the equipment and people it needs," he said. On Monday, and with the exception of Dartmouth, he said he didn't need to use the resources of the other area hospitals although they meet regularly to plan for mass casualty events.
He said the majority of mass casualties involve moving vehicles but recalled LRGH reaching out to other hospitals during a lightning strike at a boys camp in Gilmanton where the patients were sent to four area hospitals.
"We all work together and at LRGH we are there for them, knowing they will be there for us if we need them," he said.
He said the patients who get treated first are those with the most critical injuries or sicknesses and with the case of a critically injured or sick patient, the physician and nurses don't leave that person's side.
"This is hard for the patient in the waiting room because nobody likes to wait," he said. "Remember, if you're in the waiting room, it means others are sicker than you are."
Prickett said the nursing and ancillary staff did "an amazing job Monday night getting people where they needed to be."
"They are doing all of the right stuff down there," he said.
This is the van involved in a head-on collision in Gilford Monday night. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)
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